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News, schools, and views from a uniquely Lowell perspective

Non-voters along for a rudderless ride

Imagine you and your loved ones in the back seat of a car with no say in the speed or direction the driver takes. Would you really allow that to happen? Yet, every election it seems voter turnout hovers at 25% or worse. That’s a lot of people going along for the ride. I had an argument with a beloved family member on Christmas day, who told me not to judge her because she didn’t choose to vote, didn’t bother to register, and didn’t pay attention to “politicians who say whatever it takes to get elected.” Excuse me, but I will judge you—as stupid and lazy—not to participate in what is our responsibility and privilege as American citizens: That is, the opportunity to decide our leadership. I know we’re all busy, many politicians have become entertaining spin-doctors who feed the electorate what they think we want to hear, and often it feels like any election is deciding the lesser of evils as opposed to choosing truly talented and inspiring leadership. That’s no excuse. We owe it to ourselves, our ancestors, and especially our children to pay attention, so that we go to the polls as informed voters. Mind you, those last two are important: informed voters. It makes no sense to check boxes without knowing who and what you are supporting. And if you are truly disappointed by the quality of candidates, pull papers and run yourself, or encourage and support someone else running. The last thing you are allowed to do is check out of the system. With more folks willing to give up their say in the direction we’re all going, the likelihood of a driver who only listens to special interests or extremists increases exponentially. And if you think our elected leaders don’t impact you personally, add delusional to my earlier judgment.

Check out LiL or Dick Howe’s blog for information about registering by 8 p.m. tonight to vote in the special senatorial election on Jan. 19.

posted in Local Politics, National issues, State Concerns | 3 Comments

Thoughts for Christmas

What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.

Agnes M. Pharo

posted in Just life | 0 Comments

Checking the list to make merry

Like some of you, I’ve been struggling to get my act together for the holidays and I’m taking a minute here to think about my list. First off, we created and sent out about 350 cards, which included the stamping, stuffing and addressing that goes along with it. Check. Then we focused on dusting off this big old house for a bit of much-needed cleaning and clutter control. Check. Third, we chose a tree, cleared space in front of the big window for placement, and decorated it, along with four floors worth of lights, greenery and purple bows, balls, and ribbons. Check. Not to be forgotten in this effort to be merry is the huge amount of cooking and baking I’ve been doing for days: two kinds of lasagnas, breads, cookies, and all things cranberry (my theme this year). Check. And of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas if we didn’t have gifts for loved ones; in my case, that means a lot of “thought gifts” for siblings and friends, which are usually homemade and edible. My kids are older now, so instead of toys, they wanted electronics, the latest fashion styles, and other expensive items that required trips to the mall and online price/availability comparisons. Bought and wrapped. Check. Now that it is Christmas Eve, the real holiday begins for me tonight when we attend the annual candlelight service at our church—a tradition that carries through my entire life. There is nothing like singing Silent Night with a community of people each holding a single, lit candle. It is visual and spiritual, and amid the frenetic pace of our lives, it is magnificent to share the simple pleasure of light and music with others. After the service, we’ll go back to our newly cleaned house alight with candles and greenery for some food and cheer. The air will be brisk on the drive home, the snow still white, and the lights on the houses will warm my heart. Christmas Eve is my favorite night of the year. Wishing you and yours a very merry one!

posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

My favorite cards

Except for last year, I have been a consistent card sender during the holidays. Typically, my husband and I make the card together: (I’m concept and words, he’s illustrations.) I cook because I love to eat, and I send cards because I love receiving them. Instead of bills, my mail these days is full of cards and best wishes from friends and family. This year I got two cards with text that I especially enjoyed. The first one is from Barbara Lee, an art philanthropist and supporter of women in politics. The words follow:

“A snowflake is one of the most fragile creations. But look what they do when they stick together. Wishing you warmth, light, and happiness this holiday season and throughout the year.”

The second card is from Bob Gagnon, a local plumber. Here are the words to Bob’s card:

“Dashing through the snow,

In a one man Plumbing truck.

O’er the road he goes,

Hope he don’t get stuck.

Our pipes are leaking bad,

Our Boilers cold it’s sad,

When Bob gets here he’ll fix it up,

And then we’ll all be glad.

Oh! Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,

The heat is on its way.

The plumbing’s fixed; the pipes don’t leak,

Now it’s Bob we have to pay!

posted in Just for Fun | 0 Comments

Too much hate with my morning coffee

Today I made a wonderful breakfast of homemade blueberry-walnut waffles with Vermont maple syrup and hot coffee. Despite the obvious snub to carb-counters, I would have enjoyed my breakfast if I hadn’t decided to read the paper with it. In a few minutes, I read about a man, who was on probation for raping a five-year-old girl in August, and was now accused of raping his girlfriend’s three-year old girl during an overnight visit last weekend. (Part of the evidence collected is the girl’s pull-up diaper she wore to bed.) Then I read about a man accused of shooting an off-duty firefighter due to road rage. This man, whose father is a prominent Quincy businessman, and his family are no strangers to the courts with an uncle convicted in 2003 of negligent homicide in a friend’s death during a boating accident. The uncle got six months probation for boating while drunk, which seems excessively light although I don’t know the details of the case. The last story was about a father who is being charged with beating to death his seven-year-old son on Father’s Day. At that point, I closed the paper, noticed how chilly my kitchen felt despite the sun forcefully streaming in the windows, and realized I felt queasy, even sick to my stomach. Perhaps it was the sugary sweetness of syrup so early in the day, but I think it was the extreme dosage of hate and violence with my morning cup of coffee.

posted in In the News | 0 Comments

A X-Country Ski Outing

Today, I joined friends on a drive to Windblown, a x-country ski center in New Ipswich, NH, just over the Massachusetts border somewhere west of Townsend. It took us about 45 minutes to get there, but we were hopeful that the conditions would be good for our first ski-outing of the season, and we weren’t disappointed. The parking lot was full, so I was afraid that the trails would be crowded, but once we got out we rarely saw more than 2 or 3 other skiers at a time. With 25 miles of trails, there is plenty of room to spread out! It was moderately hilly, which gave us a good workout, and we enjoyed a great view of Mt. Monadnock after one of the steeper climbs. Windblown is a small, family-run business that has been in operation since 1972. They have a friendly, relaxed style; a comfortable lodge with both a woodstove and a fireplace; and plenty of space for enjoying a picnic lunch – all for $16 a person ($10 for students, children under 8 can ski free). I was left wondering why I had never heard of this place before today, but now that I’ve experienced Windblown, I’m definitely going back.

posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Great play – great gift idea from MRT

I made it to Heroes, the current offering from the Merrimack Rep, just in the nick of time as it closes tomorrow with a sold-out show. As Jackie said, it was delightful and heartwarming, although it kind of tapered off at the end. After being a subscriber for over 10 years, I miss going to the MRT, so I was glad I made it this afternoon, especially after enjoying an impromput wine tasting at Tutto Bene (I would link to them but they don’t seem to have a website) beforehand. If you are also a lapsed MRT play-goer or need a great gift for a theater-loving friend, you might check their website for some great deals on the rest of the season. I got a flex-pass for $100, which gives me 4 tickets to use anytime for any play (gift cards are also available). I used one of my tickets today to see Heroes and it was well worth it. I am looking forward to the rest of the season which includes a new Richard Dresser play (I may have to use two tickets for that one). January’s play, Fabuloso, looks zany and fun, perfect for a dull winter evening. I was reminded today of how lucky we are to have great theater right here in Lowell, minutes from home, with no parking or traffic woes!

posted in Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Co-hosting local cable show tomorrow

If you happen to be up at the crack of dawn tomorrow, tune in to LTC Channel 8 and you’ll catch me live on City Life with co-host George Anthes from 6-8 a.m. The show currently airs weekday mornings rather than its previous afternoon slot, with daily replays broadcast at 4 p.m. on channel 95. Frank Singleton and Christine Connolly of the Lowell Health Department will be our guests during the 7-8 segment of the show. At anytime during the broadcast, however, viewers may call in questions and comments by dialing 978-808-8200. In addition to discussing city health concerns with our guests, George and I will talk about all things Lowell and beyond—political, educational, and otherwise. And if past practice is any indication, producer John McDonough will join the conversation too, so tune in and telephone us if you’re up with the sun.

posted in Local People | 0 Comments

Another reason to vote today

I received this email message from Avi Green of MassVote: “Today, we go to the polls to choose party nominees for the US Senate.  You have many choices: from Michael Capuano, Martha Coakley, Alan Khazei, and Steven Pagliuca in the Democratic Primary to Scott Brown and Jack E. Robinson in the Republican Primary.  Today, your vote will decide who goes on to the General Election. The ultimate winner will represent Massachusetts for years to come.

“Here is another reason to vote: the politicians are watching.  From local town councils and mayors to state representatives and state senators, right up to the Governor’s office, elected officials watch carefully to see which communities vote.  Neighborhoods that turn out are noticedand politicians make a point of being extra responsive to their concerns.  So if you care about issues in your neighborhood, from public safety to schools to potholes to public transportation, be sure to vote today!”

With only 74 people having voted by noon at my polling location in the Highlands (the Pine Street Firehouse), it’s not looking like a huge turnout. Come on folksthis is important and takes only minutes to do!

posted in In the News, State Concerns | 0 Comments

Drug abuse continues to plague communities

At the monthly meeting of the City Manager’s Anti-Gang Task Force this morning, we discussed the problem of rampant abuse of prescription drugs, not only in Lowell but throughout the state, and its impact on crime and overdoses. Lowell Police Chief Ken Lavallee noted that many of the city’s recent increases in car break-ins, in particular, are due to drug abuse. (Readers may recall a community event on opiates abuse in October.) An op-ed in today’s MetroWest Daily News argues that one way to reduce opiate abuse is to support recommendations from an opiates report recently released to the legislature. The OxyContin and Heroin Commission report notes: “Between 2002 and 2007 the Commonwealth lost 78 soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. In the same time period, 3,265 Massachusetts residents died of opiate-related overdoses. The Commonwealth is losing men and women on its streets at a rate of 42 to 1 compared to what the state is losing in two wars overseas. Addiction is a medical disorder, and we have a public health epidemic on our hands that is larger than the flu pandemic.”

Among other things, the commission’s report calls for taking away the threat of prosecution for individuals who seek help for an overdose victim or who assist police in identifying drug sources. Likening it to the Safe Haven Law that allows parents to abandon infants without fear of prosecution and the lives saved from that initiative, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said he could support similar legislation for drug users as long as it came “with limitations that didn’t allow drug pushers a free pass.” Leone went on to explain that lives are lost when drug-users are afraid to get help for themselves or friends because they fear prosecution. Another problem is the availability of prescription drugs on the streets and the lack of awareness: from doctors who may over prescribe these medications, and from people who don’t realize the risks of addiction and easy access due to storing these drugs without safeguards. For more information, watch replays of the Lowell community program on cable channel 22, at these times: more »

posted in Healthy Living, In the News, Local Groups, State Concerns | 0 Comments

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